There is no question that Croatia won the hearts of millions during the World Cup in Russia, and the 550,000 people who came onto the streets of Zagreb to welcome home the beaten finalists showed how much of a religion sport is in this country. And while football may be the sport most associated with Croatia (let’s not forget that FIFA Bronze in World Cup 1998), it is far from the only area where Croatian athletes excel on the world stage.
Far from it…
Did you know, for example, that the city of Split is reported to have the most Olympic gold medals per capita of any city in the world? Or that the Oxford and Cambridge rowing crews compete each year against each other on the Adriatic, with one other rowing team competing against (and sometimes beating) them – Gusar from Split. The current Croatian rowing heroes are the Sinković brothers, who struck Olympic gold in Rio in 2016.
Tennis fans will never forget the sheer emotion and determination of one Goran Ivanisevic, the Wimbledon wildcard who went all the way in London to win the most famous crown of all. And his incredible legacy has been continued in the intervening years, with Iva Majoli and Marin Čilić among the big-name Croatian tennis stars taking international titles.
In fact, wherever you look, this tiny country of just 4 million seems to be dripping in sporting gold, whatever the discipline. Croatia is not renowned for its ski slopes, but it is for its skiers, with both Janica and Ivica Kostelić among the global skiing greats. Croatia even has its own bobsleigh team!
In addition to football, sports such as handball and water polo, are followed with equal enthusiasm, and Croatia’s sportsmen have responded in kind, with World Championship golds to show in both sports. And one can only speculate to what greater heights basketball genius Dražen Petrović would have reached had his life not been so tragically cut short by a car accident.
Sandra Perković has dominated the discus scene for years, Blanka Vlašić is among the world’s best high-jumpers, and who will ever forget young Sara Kolak from Ludbreg and THAT javelin throw in Rio?
So what is the secret to all this sporting success? Could it be that living in one of the world’s most relaxed and beautiful countries, with one of the healthiest and tasty diets in all Europe, could be the key to sporting success? Why not visit Croatia to learn more for yourself, and we at Sun Gardens Dubrovnik are waiting for your visit, with a full range of sporting facilities and activities. We cannot guarantee you will become a world champion, but you never know until you try…